In an effort to streamline neighbor complaints and the cleanup of unsightly yards, the Carson City Board of Supervisors is considering a revamped nuisance law that gives code enforcers the authority to declare nuisances and cite offending property owners.
Supervisors approved the new law once earlier this month, but it won't become official unless passed a second time, likely at the supervisors' meeting on Thursday.
The proposed code does away with some outdated regulations and refines what would be considered a "nuisance," which generally involves conditions that are considered a health hazard or a blight on the community.
"It's a little more defined now. It's not so gray," said Kevin McCoy, Carson City's code enforcement officer. "And it's a lot easier to work with."
The proposed regulations also give the city's code enforcement unit, a department created about a year ago, the authority to declare something like a yard full of junked cars a nuisance.
In the past, a designation of "nuisance" could only come from the supervisors, and that would only happen if it was apparent the resident wasn't going to cooperate.
McCoy can only remember that happening once in the 17 years he's worked for the city.
Carson City resident Susanne Mund, who doesn't think city has too much of a problem with dilapidated structures or junk-strewn yards, said she's still glad the city is being proactive.
"Why would a town want to wait until a problem is out of control?" Mund said.
Much of the new ordinance's purpose is to channel nuisance complaints directly to city code enforcers, rather than trying to find which department is related to a specific complaint. Some complaints now go to the fire department, others to the sheriff's office, and yet others to the health department.
"I'm pleased they cut some of the red tape out," Mund said.
"You can get confused in the bureaucratic byways. People that see a dog running loose, they know exactly who to call."
McCoy said directing nuisance complaints to his office will make sure they are handled quicker, and make sure they don't bog down other vital city departments.
If city officials notice a possible nuisance, code enforcers will investigate, but no one will be searching out violators, McCoy said. Virtually all nuisance investigations will originate with citizen complaints, he said.
After a complaint is filed, a city official will determine if there's a violation of code. If there is, a code enforcer will try and work out a solution with the property owner face to face. If nothing comes of the discussion, the city will send out a written notice of violation. If the property owner still doesn't respond, the city can issue a citation.
A first offense will be $100, a second will be $250, and a third and all others will be $500 - "and that's per day," McCoy said.
Under the current code, a nuisance would first have to be declared by the supervisors, then the city would send the matter to civil court, which would give the property owner a civil citation.
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